After spending time and energy coming up with the perfect title for your article or blog post, do you really want to take even more time debating how to format it correctly? When writing for an internet audience, using a standardized title case can help you avoid criticism and confusion. AP style title case has a few easy rules that will help showcase your title. (Note: These rules are the exact same for APA style, the only difference being that AP style does not recommend the use of title case for newspaper headlines, but rather sentence case.) To master AP title case, learn the rules below. If you want a simple cheat sheet to have at your side, feel free to download the “Rules of AP Title Case” infographic we’ve created at the bottom of the page.
Capitalize the Principal Words
The principal words of a title include the first and last words of that title, which you should always capitalize. You should also capitalize all verbs (including infinitives), nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs and some conjunctions. Finally, capitalize every word that is more than three letters long.
– Creating the Perfect Centerpiece for Your Party
– Increase Curb Appeal With New Shutters
– How To Look For a Paid Internship
In the last example, note that the entire verb phrase “to look for” is capitalized.
What Not To Capitalize
Don’t capitalize articles, prepositions or conjunctions that have fewer than four letters. That leaves a pretty short list of words that often aren’t capitalized*:
*Remember to focus on how a word functions in the title to determine if it should be capitalized. For example, “yet” should be capitalized while acting as an adverb, but lowercase while acting as a conjunction.
Pay Special Attention to Prepositions
When you write titles that contain prepositions, your word processor will likely tell you that you should leave words like “with,” “about,” and “around” lowercase. Defiantly look past the squiggly line indicating a potential error, and remember that in AP title case, prepositions with four or more letters should be capitalized.
– The Dangers of Hiking Without Proper Shoes
– Working Your Way Around Office Politics
–Questions about the Importance of Renters Insurance
– What’s Lurking beneath Your Home?
The Verb “Is”
Many writers make the error of leaving “to be” verbs lowercase. Even though “is,” “are,” “was,” and “be,” are all short words, they should still be capitalized in a title because they are verbs.
–Why Sunless Tanning Is a Hot Trend
– Satin Sheets Are a Luxury You Can Afford
–How to be More Aware of Bank Fraud
– Simple Reasons Why I am Never Bored
The title of your article or blog post is the first thing that your readers will see. By using an intriguing title and formatting it correctly, you can draw your readers in and build their trust. Throughout your article, make sure that the headings within the body of your work follow the same formatting guidelines as your title. When you do this, you are well on your way to creating an article that is both fun to read and visually appealing.
If you have any comments on the subject (or funny examples), leave them below! Click here if you’d like to freshen up on some more AP Style rules.
Rules of AP Title Case Cheat Sheet:
Article Title and Headline Capitalization RulesWhen it comes to creating headlines and titles for articles, it can get confusing what words to capitalize and what words should remain lower case. There are several styles of title and headline capitalization which different publications may use. For the most part, there are general rules that all publications follow with a few minor deviations between them. For those who write, it's important to understand these rules about which words to capitalize when creating headlines and titles.
Major Headline Capitalization StylesThere are four major title capitalization styles. These are:
- AP Style
- APA Style
- Chicago Style
- MLA Style
General Headline Style Rule: Title CaseHow to write headlines and titles is usually referred to as "headline style" or "title case." As mentioned, all styles are not the same, but there are a few general rules they all follow. These are:
- Capitalize the first word in the title
- Capitalize the last word in the title
- Capitalize the important words in the title
- Adjectives (beautiful, large, hopeful)
- Adverbs (forcefully, silently, hurriedly)
- Nouns (computer, table, manuscript)
- Pronouns (they, she, he)
- Subordinating conjunctions (as, so, that)
- Verbs (write, type, create)
Words in Headlines That Aren't CapitalizedThe above words are the ones generally capitalized, so what words are usually written in lowercase when creating headlines and titles? These tend to be shorter words (under five letters long). The following types of words are generally not capitalized:
- Articles (a, an, the)
- Coordinating Conjunctions (and, but, for)
- Short (less than 5 letters) Prepositions (at, by, from)
Alternative Headline Capitalization: Sentence CaseOne style of headline and title capitalization which doesn't follow the rules is Sentence Case style. This is where editors decide to write titles as if they were a typical sentence. In this case, the first word of the headline would be capitalized while the rest of the title would be in lower case, except for proper nouns. Below are a few examples of Sentence Case style headlines:
- How to properly write article titles
- A review of a hike at Grand Canyon national park
- The best value meal when eating at Chipotle